I don’t have a lot of memories of my hometown, at least not good ones. I could spend this time dwelling on all the bad memories and expressing how badly I wanted to move to a different province ever since high school, but that would be a waste, now wouldn’t it? Instead, I’m going to take the good old philosophy of the Ying Yang and find the good in the bad in a town called Witbank. I’m going to spend this time telling you about the one thing that has made my time in the small suburb, which I will call ‘Sunny Land’ worth remembering. I think I will call that memory by its name, Wanda.
Wanda is not an object, neither is he a thing, no, Wanda is merely a human being who lives just two houses away from mine. He doesn’t know me, but I know him. Maybe not as well as I should, but I know that what I’ve seen is enough to make us good acquaintances. He’s a tall fella, not six feet, but taller than I am. He’s skinny too, he’s like a young Will Smith. He isn’t exactly a walking Jesse Williams or a runway model of any sort. In fact, his natural bush of hair and the dashiki’s he wears make him look like more of a hippie than a model. But don’t get me wrong, this ‘non-model’ has been at the center of my universe since the day I first laid eyes on him.
Like I said, he doesn’t know that I even exist, because I’ve been watching him from my bedroom window all these years. The window seat was big enough for me to seat my derriere and admire this amazing soul and see him use his god-given hands to create works of art. He would use wood, stones, buttons, beer bottle lids and sometimes cans to create things that I always thought were made in China. He attended school just like I did, but I could tell from that little window of mine that he would rather create than read.
He doesn’t know me, but I know that he and his art were what lifted my spirits after a bad day at school. I was always sure that after coming face to face with my bully at school, things would get better when I got home. Right outside my window, Wanda would be in his rather messy yard making an ornament worthy of a spot at the Pretoria Art Museum. At times I would see a girl come in and out of the house and wondered if she was his lover, and let me not lie, I hoped she wasn’t.
Rainy days were the worst for me, because I didn’t get to see my own live art show. But whenever the clouds cleared, I would find that Wanda had already created a piece and it stood in the middle of his yard as if it was directed at me. I’m home from college yet again and my heart still sinks at the thought of coming back to ‘Sunny Land’. But I can’t forget that I have one thing to look forward to, a person who makes home feel like home. I guess things have changed too, you see, I haven’t even reached my bedroom window yet, to witness Wanda’s work of art. Instead, this large colourful flower made of differently coloured tin cans and buttons lies on the doorway of my house, and in the middle of the flower it reads: “Hello”. He doesn’t know me…I think not.